Are you an advanced English learner who still makes some mistakes in Italian? Then, this article is for you. In fact, advanced English learners of Italian may find themselves making certain mistakes when speaking or writing in Italian, despite their proficiency in the language. These mistakes can often be attributed to the influence of the learner’s native language and the differences between English and Italian grammar and vocabulary.
Here is a short list of some of the main mistakes advanced English learners of Italian may make and some suggestions on how to avoid them:
1. Misusing Italian prepositions. Italian prepositions can be notoriously difficult for English learners to master, as they often do not directly correspond to English prepositions. For example, the Italian preposition “a” can be used to indicate both location (e.g., “Sono a casa” – “I am at home”) and the indirect object of a sentence (e.g., “Ho parlato a lui” – “I spoke to him”). Advanced English learners of Italian may struggle with selecting the correct preposition for a given situation. Unfortunately, the only way to learn prepositions is to keep practicing, listening to native speakers and memorizing.
2. Failing to use the subjunctive mood. The Italian subjunctive mood is used to express doubt, uncertainty, or subjective opinion. But it’s also used with many fixed expressions. Advanced English learners of Italian may struggle to use the subjunctive mood correctly, as it is not as commonly used in English and it’s also hard to remember all the cases in which Italians use the subjunctive. My suggestion to learn the subjunctive is to take two new expressions that require this tense every week and to start to use them. Write sentences, or stories with them and try to make a speech while using them. It should become like a second nature for you to use them with this tense. Don’t stop this exercise until you feel that not using the subjunctive sounds really bad.
3. Confusing imperfetto and passato prossimo. The rules about imperfetto and passato prossimo are very different from the rules concerning simple past and present perfect in English. Sometimes it’s even possible to use both imperfetto and passato prossimo to express a concept, although the idea you convey is slightly different according to the tense you decide to use. If you have still some doubt the use of these two tenses, have a look at the article Difference between Italian imperfetto and passato prossimo and keep practicing them.
4. Also. The use of the English word “also” is different from its counterpart in Italian “anche”. So, it’s not surprising that the Italian word “anche” appears in the list of the mistakes advanced English learners do in Italian. For example Italians don’t put the word “anche” at the beginning of the sentence when it means “inoltre” but they generally put it after the verb.
5. Because. English speakers use the word “because” differently from Italians. In fact, the Italian word “perché” cannot always be used when the English word “because” is used. I wrote an article about it some time ago. So, have a look at Are you sure you know how to say “because” in Italian? to be sure you’re using the Italian word “perché” correctly.
To avoid these mistakes and improve your Italian proficiency, it is important to practice speaking and writing Italian as much as possible. Additionally, read and listen to Italian texts and media to become more familiar with natural Italian speech patterns and vocabulary. If you don’t realize you’re making these mistakes or other mistakes, then you should definitely work with a qualified Italian tutor or enroll in a language course to receive personalized instruction and feedback on your progress. With consistent effort and practice, advanced English learners of Italian can overcome these common mistakes and achieve a high level of fluency in the language.
Do you need an Italian grammar to recap all the topics? Have a look at my Sos Italian Grammar A1-C2.
Are you an advanced English learner of Italian? What are the main mistakes you’re still doing when using Italian?
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